Box 17, Item 993: Revision of Green anarkism, notes, possibilities


Box 17, Item 993: Revision of Green anarkism, notes, possibilities


Handwritten and typescript drafts, with handwritten emendations, and handwritten notes.



The University of Queensland's Richard Sylvan Papers UQFL291, Box 17, Item 993


This item was identified for digitisation at the request of The University of Queensland's 2020 Fryer Library Fellow, Dr. N.A.J. Taylor.


For all enquiries about this work, please contact the Fryer Library, The University of Queensland Library.


[14] leaves. 28.28 MB.




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This text is written in deep anger, anger not just at what humans have done to so much
of the face of the Earth, but still more at what they continue to do.

Much of the Earth is now a mess.,) Mess is due to humans, some humans. Worse,
much of the Earth's environment continues to be destroyed or seriously degraded. Again the
main direct or indirect cause is human activity. Humans continue to foul, degrade, or
destroy not only their own habitats but the environments of most other forms of life as well.
That did not need to happen. It does not have to go on happening. There were paths
not taken. There were significant options not even properly considered. In some cases,
there still are such options, not being seriously considered, not being taken. 1


That should be changed. But present socio-political arrangements, throughout entire
complex or states that covers the Earth, depend upon, are premiss^ upon, features that lead to
precisely such destruction^ and degradation^. For many states such resully are both


occurring in their own territories, and spilling over into those of others. Present socio­
political arrangements accordingly have to be changed, changed radically. But here we
encounter an evident obstacle. It is unlikely that those in power, or with privilege, will go
qui^ly, will let their class subside from its materially advantages position, or wither away
environmentally. An appropriate revolution may be needed in certain key places to affect due
changes. But that is a very controversial idea.
There is no need to recite yet again the litany of environmental disasters that have
occurred or the even more calamitous stack thafare already activated. Almost every day there


is something new or still news. Another oil spill, wiping out the lives ojf present habitats of

birds and fish. Through deforestation,^landslides here, flooding there. More whales taken
by the Japanese, Ozone holes grow. And so it goes on, with much more in store. But now
nearly every sizeable introductory textbook in biology or geography includes a large and

largely depressing section on environmental "problems" (at least too some of the devastation
and depredation is at last seen as constituting a "problem"). So do many other books; an

excellent easy high ted introduction is Ear?Asropg. And more and more popular periodicals
and newspapers^/e on environmental disasters and problems or run feature articles.' With
new threats to the collective human future the environment has become highly fashionable.


Now, with some appreciation of the inconvenience to business and businessmen of a nuclear
winter, runaway greenhouse, or like catastrophe even cautious conservatives are beginning


The intellectual who does most to bring this out, the arbitrariness even of present institutional
arrangements, is no doubt I^acault.



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to recognise that there may be ^ome problems, that }a major nuclear exchange will have
among its plausible efforts, the greatest biological and physical disruptions of this planet in
the last 65 million years'. But the apparent fact is that the very course we are 3a,
any further catastrophe, without a nuclear exchange, will cause the greatest biological
Z) 6 Ar.
disruption of the planet in the last 65 million years. It is enough to
and compare

data for species loss.

It is now a relatively easy matter to .... the considerable array of environmental

problems and outrages that we so far know something about. It is another, much more
difficult, matter to do something worthwhile about them.
While many environmental problems may now be sufficiently clear, and stark, how to
react to them, what to do, what practice and theory to pursue are seldom so clear. [Nor is
there any very grave difficulty about some of what needs to be done in order to avert or

reduce some of the worst problems, and some of the major disasters in store. What is
lacking is sufficient motivation, or opportunity among main power brokers (political will,
.<............... ..... ................................................ .................... .................................................................... ——— ----------------------- - —

political blockages,<etc)]
Th& text aims to develop the assemble requisite theory and indicate resultant practices
Ensuing political theory^
which will lead to relevant change. But)

There is much theoretical work to be accomplished, both critical and constructive.

Critical work criticizing present and prevailing assumptions and practices, and the acclaimed
justification and alleged reasonableness of these practices. Constructive activity outlining
ernative idea-<
alternative practices and way of reaching
alternative structures, alternative
. The present exercise aims to be a part of that endeavors. It is a
them from
where we——
______________ ——
-------------- A/
philosophical, theoretical book^ It concentrates on the theory, especially the
theory, of /
.. ......................................................................................................
. ^4—environmentalisin.\ While it offers a purework for environmental action, it says little directly
on such action. Those are one practical details zmd recipes for saving a forest froim





destructive logging interests, for example, ways to proceed abouTihal are forever become
increasingly appreciated. What is still lacking is the wider p^lifactory structure which
explains and justifies opposition and resistance.

The run of environmental ethics text do little of what is required. They contain
insufficient criticism, little analysis of depth, no vision or elaboration of alternatives. They
are so sweetly, eminently reasonable^ fiddling while environmental Rome bums. Too many
seek "blame"
and all that sort of crap.
Or, where they would shake
" with
........ - development
near ihA

present predatory arrangements, it is only in one respect, and that not getting to bottom of the
troubles, reat^ meat eating. For, while some problems work be ^t-&ough^(^
----- other

generals thereby), it is evident that the rape of most of the Earth could construe
vegetarian way.

ace in a

, .

Environmental ethics texts have no anger, no outrage at what is Being being done to
the Earth. Put crudely, they lack guts. Indeed some suggest that things are proceeding
rather well, as it not so well, as well as could be expected. (If the latter it coop very little for
managing humans competent as managers/organisers). Al! is vary/ivr from well. There is
cause not merely for concern, but for deep anger. (Such anger may be un-American.)

The dominant way, re^our^ism,
if not successfully opposed, will ultimately
destroy the ecosphere and then humans

among other species

Intellectuals, philosophers especially, lately economists even more,2 deal to answer
for, socially and environmentally. They encouraged permit of present damaging practices;
they proceeded to provide the intellectual and attitudinal underpinnings that helped motivate
and continue^ to justify the practices.
Nor, with the evidence of environmental crisis so manifest, have things changed much.
Most intellectuals continue as if nothing had happened apart from the beneficial advancement

of science and technology. Most economists continue to produce or partificate upon various
growth (or maximal equilibrium) pmf^tonals. Most philosophers - most are AngloAmerican in background - continue in their hopeless efforts to prop up or impede upon what
is fundamentally anfhdi d awedy^basicaiiyv Humean empiricism (thus recently in the on-going
display of Humean fashions, evolutionary epistemology, belief as reduced to desire, causal
reductions, etc). Most have said, or done, very little about the^..^./ environmental

situations; those who have, like Naess, are often ridiculed by the comfortable professionals.

This book tries to retell, in a more organised and coherent way what deep-green
theory, an environmental theory that has emerged in a sporadic and scattered way over the

last couple of decades, is all about. But not everything is told; only the predominantly ethical
pa^ts. Later parts of this series on deep-green theory will cover political and economics
theory and social theory more generally.

Untila century ago philosophy and economics were not separate disciplines. The significant
economists were almost invariably philosophers (neeerds may be the one main^,...).



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Deep-green theory aims eventually to supply a comprehensive alternative
environmental philosophy. While it stands on its own, it is alternative because it stands in
radical ideological opposition to dominant ways, nowadays predominantly industrial. It
offers a philosophy both in the contemporary narrower sense, and in the older sense of an
intellectually informed and critical way of life. That philosophy is centred on an ethical

theory (upon which this issue concentrates), which is in form centred upon a value theory.
But the ethic' issues, in a fashion broadly associated since Aristotle, in a politics and political
economy. But the output of the value theory in fact reaches much further, into practical
decision making in a range of environmentally impacting areas such as fishing, forestry and
agriculture. The value theory is also intertwined with philosophical issues which are often
considered more fundamental, those of astophyism and epistemology. Indeed there is no
part of philosophy that remains untouched. Therein lies part of the claim to

The particular form of deep-green theory elaborated is by no means independent of
(acclaimed) advances recently made elsewhere in philosophy (those in object-theory and
relevant and paraconsistent logics especially). But though the theory given is influenced and
„--------- -—-sometimes in fact shaped through these developments, deep-green theory moBe^gen^ahy can A
avoid them„ (The type of theory given could easily enough be recast m a more classical
Platonistic form - undoubtedly a much less plausible form^ Nor will these background
advances intrude, it is hoped, in the given elaboration of deep-green theory; the background
will remain, fairly directly in the background, and not come to dominate proceedings or
proceedings depend upon special new controversial features of it. Where more
technical agreements are required, they will be relegated to appendices.
LA^to d^ep theory-—

Deep-green theory is the environmental branch of a much larger affair, deep theory.
There is a point, in fact a real expository need, to place deep-green theory in the larger setting
of deep theory. For deep theory influences several of the choices made in deciding upon the

way deep-green theory goes, the shape it takes. Although the influence will become evident,
particularly with the intertwining of truth and value t&at
it is worth giving an example.
Too much of the Anglo-American discussion of intrinsic value and of obligations to future
generations is taken up with - hung up upon - ontological questions, about universal items in

the first case, and as how there can be obligations regarding future items which do not (yet)


exist in "suitable" determinate form in the second. Deep object-theory slices straight through
these issues, removing the problem-generating ontological assumptions.

is a grander theory lying in the background, which significantly influences
the philosophical approach taken in deep-green theory, as well as being influenced by it.
There is no reason why that grand backdrop should remain hidden; there is no hidden
agenda. The background theory, of which deep-green theory is a part, is called simply
For it represents the confluence of several deep positions with deep-green theory:
deep pluralism, depth relevant theory, deep item-theory, and so on. As a theoretical
endeavor, deep theory aims to pull together, into a unified coherent theory these various deep
positions. It thus draws together and integrates as well, several other interrelated efforts (on
dialethism, process theory, anakyrie, etc.) With deep theory I aim to supply eventually a
fairly comprehensive philosophical package. I used to imagine that with moderate
comprehensiveness as regards present philosophical problems would come a certain
completeness; but I've come to thinkjhat a total philosophy is an illusion, like

Deep theory is no doubt a presumptuous title (there are worse about, e.g. Total
philosophy", 'ecosophy'^, ^o( it is altogether satisfactory, given the problems and obscurities,

.to be encountered, lacking in the notion of depth. My main excuse is that I did not exactly
good to refuse. It emerged from a terminological confluence of several e&eas in which I'd

thought, or environmental philosophy^with a revised deep ecology), deep relevant theory,
deep pluralism (which deepened radical pluralism), and deep item-theory (which deepens

To give a picture of deep theory, it suffices for present purposes to indicate some main
features of deep positions, some of their integrating interrelations, and some of their

revolutionary potential. Deep theory overturns or subverts very much of what has been
assumed or presupposed in Western philosophy, and particularly in Enlightenmented
contemporary philosophy.
For example, it overturns the following widespread assumptions:* the Ontological Assumption, that truth, and also/ meaning, are functions of reference, and
thereby presuppose existence. On the contrary according to (deep) item theory, we can
perfectlv well talk and think trulv aboutS items that do not exist, and' also about items that are
impossible. ^Therewith repudiated also then is an occasionally favoured full-back from
enttcalism, namely possibilism, which assumes

* the Possibilist Reduction, of everything that counts in discourse to possible individuals#
there are no other genuine subjects, all else can be analysed (or thrown) away.
Bound up with possibilism are
* the assumptions of modalism, of the correctness of classical logic, and of the absolute

Under more throughgoing transconsistency (or
paraconsistency) these connected assumptions are one and all repudiated. The
transconsistent connection assumes an important role in the straightforward treatment of
moral and other dilemmas, in showing for example how an agent may coherently operate
requirement of consistency.

under inconsistent obligations or with incompatible needs.

Important special cases of modalism are such theories as that

* entailment is strict implication (or its metalinguistic analogical) and that conditionality
amounts to a modal function of material implication^. The rejection of such themes and their
jeourses is part of what motivates deep relevant logic.
While the parts of deep theory are integrated and are intended to be materially

reinforcing, nothing prevents their fairly independent elaborations. The holism conceded
does not exclude separation or analysis. In particular, deep-green theory is amenable to

ependent development and analysis.



Material implication is the implication defined in terms of truth-functions thus: A materially
implies B iff not last A and not B, or equivalently, iff either not A or B. Strict implication is the
necessitation of material obligatory i.e. A strictly implies B iff necessarily A materially implies
B, or equivalently, iff it is not possible that not A and not B.



/ re/


Richard Sylvan, “Box 17, Item 993: Revision of Green anarkism, notes, possibilities,” Antipodean Antinuclearism, accessed July 23, 2024,

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